This piece was originally written by me, in July, two months ago.
This is just an opinion piece.....thoughts of mine that are very much on my heart tonight. As A Christian Believer myself, i am not what you would call the norm: I am what is called a liberal Christian...i am Pro-Choice, i love President Obama, and think he is doing, and trying to do, a stellar job as our country's President. I also believe in a Democratic Socialistic society, where all can have a decent life, not just those who are rich and privileged. I also believe that no state or federal government should make any laws inhibiting the free will and rights of the human population. I also believe strongly in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender rights, i am ecstatic that LGBT couples are now free to get married and have the same rights as a man and woman who marry, and that more and more states are approving this much needed freedom.
I am mainly speaking from my own personal experiences that have mostly been very negative and traumatic that i have had with churches over the years, I have visited many, from growing up Roman Catholic, and being forced to ride to 8:00 AM Sunday Mass in the freezing cold every Sunday morning whether i liked it or not, to growing up and attending and being baptized by immersion in a Southern Baptist church, where they, on a regular basis, told people which elected officials and political measures to vote for and to not vote for. They also frowned upon rock music, dancing, playing cards, and people not being in church everytime the doors were open, no ifs ands or buts. To me, telling people what to do, and who to vote for, is wrong. Let us decide for ourselves.
I have also had experiences with both Charismatic and Pentecostal churches....in the Charismatic ones, there is much emphasis on being baptized in the Holy Spirit, where one regularly prays and speaks in tongues. I did feel the Holy Spirit alot in those churches, but i never spoke in tongues, and i still don't, to this day. Even so, i sometimes will feel the Holy Spirit very strongly when i pray. Pentecostal churches take it many steps further: many who attend a Pentecostal church, get totally out of control, in my opinion. In many of those churches, members are coerced into paying ten percent of their income, and giving even above and beyond of their income, resources and time....even when they don't have it to give. In addition, in these type of churches, the men wear short hair, and suits and ties, and the women wear veils, wear their hair long, down to the floor, even, and they wear skirts and dresses 24/7. No pants whatsoever. I feel way uncomfortable in both Charismatic and Pentecostal churches, because they like to preach at, control, cure and fix people. if you can't be cured, fixed, controlled and hate being preached at....they automatically think you are headed on the fast track to hell!!
Then there are regular churches, churches where i have actually enjoyed myself, because they are so laid back; they love you as you are, the worship and praise music is rockin', and they have lots of cool activities. Those are my favorite churches to go to, because they don't try to fix and cure me. I also like churches that have evening services, because i am so not a morning person, and like the option of being able to go to an evening service.
But one thing i have noticed is that many who profess to be Christian, seem to have a holier than thou attitude, they like to judge, condemn, and make assumptions about a person, and in many churches, there are often cliques, cliques, and more cliques. Cliques that exclude and ignore any "outsiders'. If there are programs for disabled/special needs people, they are segregated, and not often invited to any of the regular church functions. Most of the church's parishioners will shun you if you are different, sadly, but true.
In my opinion, what would Jesus actually think if He came back down to earth and saw the way churches treat our poor, disabled, and special needs population? I realize some who read this are of other faiths, religions, and on other spiritual planes. Some choose not to believe. All of this....is okay,....and it SHOULD be okay. We all share the same world and universe. We all need to freaking get along.
For it is all about LOVE...and love means treating, accepting, and loving others as you would want to be treated, accepted, and loved.
To me, all religions should encourage a person's freedom, talents, and creativity, not inhibit those things.
No religion has the right to tell a poor person who struggles just to be able to to feed their children and pay their rent and utilities and car payment on time, to first give that church ten percent of their money, especially when it means that person then has to go to family, friends, and others to get the money for their rent, food and utilities. Just so they can give to that church. And to use guilt tactics as a way to get one to give. I, as a poor person, don't have ten percent of my money to give to a church. I give what i can though. But not till it hurts me and i can't provide for myself.
No church, if they want to show the love of God, has the right to exclude and segregate those who are disabled from their main activities, and make those souls sit by themselves, with no one to talk to. Jesus wouldn't exclude anyone. So we as a human race need to stop excluding others just because they are different from you. Nor does a church have the right to devalue, dehumanize, disempower, or otherwise discriminate and invalidate those with disabilities and special needs. When people in a church tell a disabled/special needs person that they can pray that person's autism away, that is VERY dismissive and devalues us as the human beings we are.
I don't care how a person dresses or wears their hair....if they choose to wear makeup, choose to have piercings, and tattoos, or they choose to wear a veil....i don't care if a person chooses to pray to Allah, or they choose not to believe....it all should be that person's choice. And that person's choice alone. Period. But when a church has so much control over someone that they end up not paying the rent, and putting much needed food on the table, or they are told who they should vote for, or told they can't listen to certain music, or are made to feel devalued for who they are, then that, to me, is a church to run as far away from you can get. Because that's how cults are started. When a church starts controlling its congregation and taking their freedoms away.
This is why i choose to call myself spiritual, and not religious. This is why i choose not to go to church at this time. It isn't about how much we tithe, or what prayers we chant....it's all about L-O-V-E......and love that is unconditional.....love which lets a person still retain their freedom and dignity and personhood. Our freedom to think, live, and be.